Nearly three quarters of council budget cuts over the last 10 years have been in urban areas – with Barnsley being hit the hardest.
The figures, revealed in the Centre for Cities annual report, found that £386 per city dweller has been lost since 2009/10 compared to £172 per person in other areas.
Cities in the north of England have suffered the worst cut backs, with budgets cut by an average of a fifth, while those in the south and east have seen average reductions of just 9 per cent.
The former mining and glass making town of Barnsley, in South Yorkshire, came top of the places hardest hit by austerity, with its council seeing a 40 per cent cut in day-to-day spending.
Head of Unite Community Liane Groves said, “The destruction wrought on public services, welfare and most importantly people’s lives by austerity in Barnsley is simply awful – no wonder many in the town who remember the Miners’ Strike believe the Tories still wish them ill.
“As if killing off Barnsley’s traditional industries and imposing massive cuts wasn’t enough, the Tories have encouraged a low wage economy that offers nothing but insecure work to permeate its job market.”
Groves noted that councils across the country are dealing with similar situations because of the Tories’ policies and said it was no coincidence that a majority are in Labour constituencies.
“While Barnsley has been hit hardest, people in towns and cities across the country are also bearing the brunt of the Conservative’s counterproductive and ideologically driven cruelty,” Groves said.
“It’s important to note that the Tories have not gone after their own – it’s working people who can least afford it that have been targeted.”
Pain not over
In a separate report, the Local Government Association warned that the pain of austerity is not over for local councils – who are expected to fill an £8bn shortfall by 2025.
Commenting on the LGA’s warning that services will face further devastation as a result of the budgetary blackhole, Unite national officer for local authorities Jim Kennedy said that the cuts are “changing the nature of society”.
“We are witnessing constant cuts to essential services which affect the most vulnerable in society such as the very young and the elderly,” he said.
“Up and down the country local communities are seeing the closure of libraries, swimming pools and parks amongst many other much needed amenities, as a direct result of councils being continuously forced into slashing budgets.”
Kennedy called on the government to “take an urgent reality check” and acknowledge the harm it was doing to communities, adding, “It needs to stop the further planned cuts in funding and reverse the damage it has already done.”